ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Zack Lambeck's Putting Game (Video)

GOLFTEC's Zack Lambeck demonstrates a putting game to help you make more breaking putts.



The game is simple enough. You find a putt that breaks noticeably, set a line of golf balls out to the side of the hole -- five balls, three feet apart -- then put a tee in the ground just inside the low side of the cup. Your goal is to hit putts that, if they miss the hole, they miss on the high side and not on the low side.

The scoring is equally simple:
  • A made putt = 3 points
  • A miss on the high side = 1 point
  • A miss on the low side resets your score to 0
  • Winning total is 15 points
You can, of course, play the game by yourself or with others.

Game drills are always more fun than simple repetition drills. And one thing I like about this one is that tee in front of the hole, which I think makes it easier to aim because it gives you a clear indication of where the edge of the hole is. Given that you don't have to buy any new equipment to use this practice rig, I think it's worth a try.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wally Armstrong's Drill for Better Shots Off the Tee (Video)

Wally Armstrong from Golf Tips Magazine calls this drill "sweeping the dew." It's an easy drill you can do on the teebox before your shot.



Placing the clubhead on the ground well back in your stance, then dragging it along the ground and up to a full finish can help your drive in a number of ways.
  • It helps you learn to stay more level during your downswing. Many players think they lift their heads when they actually straighten their knees.
  • It helps you learn to turn fully into your finish. If your shoulders stop turning too soon, that's going to affect how square your clubface is at impact.
  • It teaches you how far to stand from the ball.
I think that last one may be the biggest advantage of this drill. If you stand too close to the ball, you won't be able to use your knees properly, and if you're too far away you'll lose your balance very easily. And it will help flatten your swing just enough to prevent an over-the-top or pull swing.

Yes, I know I harp on ball position all the time. But a huge number of swing problems are caused by incorrect ball position, and yet it's one of the easiest things to fix because it's just a setup issue.

If you do this drill correctly, you should feel rhythmic and balanced all the way to your finish. That, in conjunction with correct ball position, should really help your tee shots with a minimum of practice.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Wie Out for the Rest of the Season

In case you somehow missed it, Michelle Wie's wrist finally got the better of her. She's fought it all year, taking cortisone shots, skipping events to rest and rebuilding her swing again, all in hopes of avoiding surgery. Alas, it was not to be. The deed is done and she's done for the year.




I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” ☺️ A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. ❤️ I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise 🤝
A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on
Personally, I think it shows just how tough and how determined Michelle is to play. Say what you like about her lack of wins, she's been dogged by injuries since her teen years and yet she just keeps coming back. Hopefully she'll start next year the way she started this one, with a win.

In the meantime, get well soon, Wiesy!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Who Says Laura Davies's Best Days Are Past?

This is the first year that there have been two senior women's majors.

Dame Laura Davies owns both trophies. Need I say more?

Laura Davies with Senior LPGA trophy

This one wasn't as easy as her 10-stroke romp at the US Senior Women's Open. The wind howled at 25mph and, as best as I can tell, she still tied the best score of the day with a 70. She beat the field by four strokes in tough conditions.

I'm now watching to see if she can take this form back to the main tour. She HAS to have gotten some real confidence from these performances. Way to go, Laura!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Dame's at It Again!

It was just a few months ago that Dame Laura Davies blitzed the field at the Senior Women's Open by ten strokes. And while she doesn't look to put on that kind of show this week, Laura is once again in the lead at the LPGA Senior Championship.

Laura Davies putting at the French Lick course

It's been cold and windy at the French Lick course in Indiana (and for those of you overseas who might not know, French Lick IN is famous for being the home of NBA legend Larry Bird) so it's put a bit of a damper on the scoring. After two rounds there are only nine players under par and Laura has a two-shot lead at -6 (68-70).

Laura finished her first round with two bogeys, then added two more in the first four holes of her second round before righting the ship to take the second round lead. Her closest competitor, Brandie Burton, has been on a roller coaster, shooting 74-66. And the oldest player in the field, Jane Crafter, is at -3 after rounds of 70-71. Silvia Cavalleri is also at -3, but it's hard for me to believe she's old enough to be in this field (LPGA seniors start at 45).

Perhaps that just shows my own age.

Anyway, the final round is today. I'm going to miss it because of work but at least I can check the scores on the LPGA's live leaderboard. If you're where you can watch it, GC will carry it at 4-6pm ET.

I'll be interested to see if Laura can make it two in a row, regardless of the victory margin. She's definitely making a good go of it so far.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The New Rules for Greens Books

We knew it was coming but the USGA and the R&A finalized their decision on how green-reading books will be regulated.

Typical greens book page

The new rules will limit the size of the books, the scale of the diagrams and even how you read them. (That last bit is the most interesting to me.)
  • The books' size will be limited to 4.5x7 inches, which makes them small enough to put in a pocket.
  • But you could just use smaller print, right? Au contraire, mon ami! The scale at which you draw the books will be limited to 3/8 inch of page for every 5 yards of green (1:480).
  • And just to make sure nobody tries microprinting the details, you can't use a magnifying glass or anything other than prescription eyeglasses to read the books.
The two ruling bodies will continue to allow handwritten notes as long as the writers are the player or his caddie -- in other words, no mass printing of the handwriting!

How is this going to affect the game? I don't know for sure. I suspect we may see a surge in the number of players using AimPoint Express, and I won't be surprised if some enterprising player (Bryson, are you listening?) figures out some new way to notate the contours of the green. All those tiny little arrows you see on the photo above? A few well-placed and well-drawn complex curves might give players the same amount of info without requiring so much detail.

Of course, that would make greens book reading more of an art. But that IS what the ruling bodies are after, isn't it?

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 CIMB Classic

Winner: Marc Leishman

Around the wider world of golf: In-Gee Chun blitzed the field to win the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Bernhard Langer did likewise at the SAS Championship on the Champions Tour; Jared Wolfe won the Volvo Abierto de Chile on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Nick Voke won the Clearwater Bay Open (and a Web.com Tour card) on the PGA TOUR China; Eddie Pepperell won the Sky Sports British Masters on the ET; and Tirawat Kaewsiribandit won the UMA CNS Open Golf Championship on the Asian Tour.

Marc Leishman hoists the CIMB trophy

It only took five holes for Marc Leishman to make his plans for the day clear. Four straight birdies on holes 2-5 gave him a lead that he never relinquished.

And when he birdied the final hole, he left no doubt in anyone's mind that he could be trouble going forward. After all, he's won three times in the past 18 months... and the last two were five-shot blowouts. He set a tournament record (-23) at the 2017 BMW Championship and tied the record (-26) this week.

Oh yeah, the field will take notice of this one.

As for Leish, he knew exactly what his plans for the night would be as well:
"We'll sit that (trophy) in the middle of the table tonight and have a few beers and just talk about it and just have a good night with friends really. I'm looking forward to doing that tonight."
Spoken like a true Aussie. There's not much more I can add...

Well, okay. Just this one little Limerick Summary. Leish is gathering quite a collection of them!
The field knew low scores were a must—
And Leish STILL left ‘em all in the dust!
Once he went five shots clear,
No one else could get near;
All their hopes for a victory went bust.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tommy Fleetwood on Chipping (Video)

This video is three years old, right about the time Tommy started his run back to the top of the game. I won't repeat everything in this video -- that's why I include the video, after all -- but I'd like to point out a couple of things that you may be interested in.



First of all, Tommy now carries four wedges. That's nearly a third of the clubs in his bag, which shows you how much importance he puts on this part of his game. Note that he says the fourth wedge he added, which has slightly less loft than a sand wedge, allows him to take longer clubs off the tee on shorter holes if he so desires. So this fourth wedge is as much a strategy choice as a short game choice.

You'll also want to note that Tommy plays a cut shot for all his chips. As a rightie, he lines up with his feet aimed slightly left and swings down his foot line, which gives him a slight out-to-in swing path. A lot of players and instructors these days prefer to hook their chips to get them running sooner. There is no right or wrong here, but you need to pick the one you think benefits you the most. Tommy is very clear that he thinks a cut shot is the best shot, so that's what he plays. Confidence is important in your short game!

One extra thing I'll mention is that, while Tommy generally plays his chips from a narrow stance, he says he does widen his stance for longer chips that require a longer swing. Note that he doesn't put a length on when he does that, so it's clearly a feel thing for him. That's also worth remembering when you're developing your own set of fundamentals.

And I think that is the biggest takeaway from Tommy's video lesson. You have to develop your own fundamentals, decide on which techniques you're going to use in your own game. I don't care what any player or instructor tells you, there's only one truth when it comes to golf technique:
If it works for you, it's right for you.
There are a lot of ways to get the job done, so the important thing is to make your stroke with confidence. Don't let anybody tell you differently!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kirk Jones on Hand Motion (Video)

You can think of today's tip as the flip side of Thursday's tip. Martin Hall talked about how grip affects your tendency to hook the ball; in today's video Kirk Jones talks about how grip affects all club motion.



While Martin talked about creating a more neutral hand position, Kirk shows why you need to pay attention to HOW you use that hand position.

Even with a good grip to create a desired clubface position, you can alter that clubface if you get sloppy with your wrist motion. Cupping your lead wrist can open the most neutral clubface, while rolling your trail hand over your lead hand (also called bowing the wrist) can close the face down.

Kirk also mentions exaggerating your wrist cock. That contributes to both problems, depending on whether you cup or bow your wrist to create more cock during your swing.

The irony here is -- and I know some instructors will disagree with me but it's true -- you can play good golf with a bowed wrist and you can also play good golf with a cupped wrist. Just look at the history of our game and you'll find great players who used both of these positions at the top of their swings.

The key here is consistency. If you bow your wrist, you need to keep it bowed the same amount throughout your swing. The same is true of cupping. It's when you use a cupped (or bowed) grip at address, bow (or cup) it on the way back and then try to square the face at impact that you get into trouble. For example, DJ bows his wrist during his backswing and then maintains that bow all the way through impact. That makes him a fairly consistent driver despite his length.

Finally, I shouldn't have to say this but I will: Obviously you want to avoid the extremes. A slight bow or a slight cup is pretty easy to maintain throughout your swing; exaggerated cups and bows like Kirk shows in the video are recipes for disaster. Find your most natural position and maintain it throughout your swing, and you'll be surprised at how much more consistent you'll be.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Power Restored!

As you may have guessed from the missing post this morning, we got hit by the storm. Hurricane Michael (you have no idea how many jokes I've heard about that!) hit us Thursday afternoon. It was pretty quick but it was messy, taking down trees and power lines all over the place. One of our neighbors actually had a two-foot diameter tree blown over UPHILL through the branches of a stronger tree that didn't fall.

Anyway, this post is just to let you know that I'm back on line and will be posting as normal tomorrow. We're still straightening out the mess today, but at least we and most of the other folks locally are okay. Be sure to pray for all the people who have been or will be in the path of this storm.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Martin Hall's Hook Stopper (Video)

I do a lot more tips for slicers than hookers simply because there seem to be more of them on golf courses. (Okay, that doesn't sound quite right but we'll press on. ;-) Anyway, this Night School video from Martin Hall has a very simple way to help stop your unwanted hooks.



As you know by now, I love simple fixes... and the simpler, the better. The more complicated a "fix" is, the less likely it is that you'll be able to repeat it. But this grip tip is wonderfully simple. I'll even call it pure genius!

If you hold the club shaft parallel to the ground in your trailing hand and make sure that the face of the club looks straight up at the sky -- Martin says the grooves are parallel to the ground, which means the same thing and it's just a matter of which thought helps you get the face in the correct position -- if you hold the club this way and THEN take your lead hand grip so the back of that hand also faces the sky, you'll get a weaker grip.

And a weaker grip makes you less likely to flip the clubface at impact and hook the ball.

So if you're hooking the ball and yet can't stop using a strong grip, this is a very simple tip to help you get a weaker grip on the club and do it consistently. Consistency is always the key to a permanent fix; if you can't do something the same way every time, you can't correct the problem.

Yes, I love simple tips. And this is a great one if you have trouble with a chronic hook.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Reminder: CIMB Classic TONIGHT

Just reminding you that the CIMB Classic coverage begins TONIGHT on GC at 10:30pm ET. Pat Perez is the defending champion.

Defending champ Pat Perez

As best as I can tell, Kuala Lumpur is 12 hours ahead of us here in the Southeastern US. So the prime time coverage tonight will actually begin at 10:30am Kuala Lumpur time. I don't know how players make such a large schedule adjustment, especially the guys coming from the Safeway Open this past weekend.

Anyway, there will be four hours of live coverage TONIGHT. Just remember that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Furyk on Breaking Up Spieth and Reed (Video)

I wanted to find the entire interview Tim Rosaforte did with Jim Furyk that aired on Monday's Morning Drive, but I haven't found it yet. However, since this has been a major question about his decisions at the Ryder Cup, I thought I'd post this one.



Furyk's explanation makes sense to me. While the possibility of pairing Tiger with Justin Thomas and leaving the Spieth/Reed team intact was there -- that was the reason they were in the same pod -- the decision was made simply because Tiger made the team. And Furyk says all parties knew that was the plan for weeks before the Cup.

The possibility of breaking up one team that had been succcessful in the past -- let's keep that "in the past" bit in mind, as there is no guarantee that Reed and Spieth would have played well this time -- to try and create two winning teams seems a good gamble to me, given the caliber of the players involved. and the fact is that Furyk still fielded one winning team while the second team ended up facing the Euro Superteam every time.

After hearing this, Reed's dissatisfaction with the arrangement after the Cup seems to be the result of poor play more than anything else, don't you think? It's just a shame that he didn't handle it better. Furyk did say that Reed and he had texted each other since the comments, but he didn't go into detail about the content of those texts.

It sounded pretty clear to me that Furyk simply expected guys to "show up" as they have in the past, even when their games weren't quite in shape coming in, and they didn't. But that's golf, isn't it?

Furyk talked about a lot of things in the interview. Among other things, he also noted that he had planned to send Phil and Bryson out in the morning fourballs but Phil didn't feel good about his swing and spent the morning working on the range, that DJ and Brooks laughed about the supposed fight they had, and that the team members seem surprised that everybody thinks things were so bad in the US team room.

If you didn't hear the full interview, you might want to explore the shorter clips that GC has posted on their site. They are very interesting!

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Safeway Open

Winner: Kevin Tway

Around the wider world of golf: Team Korea got their first UL International Crown victory on the LPGA; Lucas Bjerregaard won his second European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship; Ruixin Liu won for the third time this season at the Symetra Tour Championship; Nicolás Echavarría won the San Luis Championship on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Kevin Techakanokboon (an American!) won the Zhuhai Championship on the PGA TOUR China; John Catlin (another American!) won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on the Asian Tour; and Takumi Kanaya won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

Kevin Tway with the Safeway Open keg trophy

Alright, I confess: I was far more interested in seeing the new Doctor Who episode than in the final round of the Safeway Open. (For those of you unfamiliar with Doctor Who, it's a British science-fiction show that has been around for over 50 years, the Doctor is an alien who regenerates into a new body any time they need to change actors, and this is the first time the Doctor has been a woman although they've been hinting that this was coming for around three or four years.) And in my opinion, the new Doctor did not disappoint.

Fortunately, since BBC America chose to do a global simulcast of the show, I didn't have to miss any of the Safeway's final round. Sometimes cable is a wonderful thing!

I don't know if Kevin Tway is a Doctor Who fan (aka a "Whovian") or not, but he certainly debuted a new episode in his own career Sunday. (Wasn't that a smooth transition? I'm proud of that one.) Tway is yet another of those "can't miss kids" who has learned the Tour is a tough place to win -- even if your dad is a major winner.

But like his dad Bob Tway, who won his first event in a playoff against a proven player (the 1986 Andy Williams Open against Bernhard Langer), Kevin claimed his first win in a playoff against two proven winners, Brandt Snedeker (9 PGA Tour wins) and Ryan Moore (5 PGA Tour wins). While Brandt struggled to hold on to his third round lead and Ryan tied the best round of the day (-5), Kevin calmly shot -1 in the windy conditions to make a three-way playoff.

And then all he did was birdie all three playoff holes to grab his first win.

I thought the most telling thing Kevin said after the round was that his dad had been telling him he was good enough to win... but he didn't really believe it until he actually did it Sunday. I don't believe in the old "floodgates" theory, but I can't help thinking that his playoff performance -- three birdies under pressure -- may be the start of some really good performances the rest of this year.

And if I can help kick that streak off with his very first Limerick Summary? Well, I'm glad to help.
The seventy-five holes it took
For Kevin to get his first look
At a victory weren’t bad.
The birdies he had
Could be signs that good fortune’s afoot.
The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Ian Baker-Finch's Favorite Putting Drill (Video)

I've been doing tips from players in this week's UL International Crown and wanted to do a putting tip from So Yeon Ryu, but all I could find was her mentioning that she worked with Ian Baker-Finch. So here's a drill from Ian...



Ian's favorite drill is one you've probably seen before. He places five balls in a line, starting at three feet from the hole and the next one three feet farther, etc., all the way out to 15 feet. (Or, as he says, you can just use the putter shaft as a rough guide.) Then he tries to make all of the balls, starting with the one closest to the hole. He repeats the drill four times -- uphill, downhill, right-to-left and left-to-right.

What caught my eye is how he practices the downhillers. I was a bit surprised that he placed a target ball PAST the hole. Since he's putting downhill, I would have expected his target to be just short of the hole so he didn't roll too far past.

But Ian is clearly afraid of leaving his downhill putts short. And to be honest, we do see the pros leave them short quite often. But I'm not certain that's a common problem for amateurs. And this is where you need to pay special attention.

This is a great drill for learning speed control. But when you try it, you need to see what your tendencies are and adjust for them.

Do you tend to hit your downhillers way past the hole? Then you should set a target ball that is roughly that amount short of the hole and see how you do when you try to stop the ball there.

Do you tend to leave your uphillers short? Then you should set a target ball that far past the hole and try to get the ball to stop there.

Drills are only useful if they help you get the results you want. Never be afraid to adjust a drill if doing it the way an instructor recommends doesn't help you improve.

Even if that instructor is Ian Baker-Finch.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Lexi Thompson on Consistent Driving (Video)

This video comes from Golfing World via golfchannel.com. In it Lexi talks about how to be more consistent with your driver.



I think it's interesting that Lexi doesn't really know how to practice consistency. It demonstrates a less-technical approach to her golf swing -- which, if you've ever seen her as she finishes some of her shots -- is clearly how she plays.

But she does give two solid pointers.
  • If you want to hit the ball more consistently, you must hit the ball in the center of the clubface.
  • If you want to hit the ball in the center of the clubface, you must swing rhythmically. Swinging hard will have the opposite effect.
If you want the technical term, Lexi is talking about sequencing. When you swing too hard, you tense up and disrupt the rhythm of your swing. That means you won't make the same swing each time.

Let's be straight about one thing: Nobody is ever consistently consistent. (Yes, I know. Just smile and read on.) This is not about perfection in your swing. Rather, it's about attitude. It's about accepting that you are human and can't get it right every time, but that you can improve by learning to trust your swing.

And that means learning to swing comfortably. It's not about making a perfect swing, but about making a swing that you feel comfortable making. That's how you develop consistency, especially under pressure.

Lexi's swing isn't perfect, but it's successful. Think about that and learn from it.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Ariya Jutanugarn's Swing Technique

Phil posted the link to this golf.com article on yesterday's Georgia Hall post and I figured, "Hey, I posted some help for chipping. Why not for the full swing?" So here it is.

Ariya Jutanugarn swing, down-the-line view

The article mostly focuses on generating power -- don't they all these days? -- but one of the four tips can help just about everybody without hitting the gym.

Simply enough, Ariya "flings" the clubhead at the ball. All that means is she stays relaxed and flexible during her swing. She doesn't grip tightly and try to make sure the clubhead hits the ball. (If you ask me, that sounds like Charles Barkley's problem.) When she swings she just lets it go.

You don't need "grunt power" to get distance. You need clubhead speed, and you get that through a free relaxed motion. When you try to hit too hard, you tighten your muscles and actually slow the clubhead down. Most of the ladies on the LPGA and LET don't look like they're swinging all that hard, but they hit the ball farther than most average male amateurs -- even though most of them are much shorter than the men!

That's what I'd like you to take from this golf.com article. Swing freely. That's a simple tip that most average players never learn, but you can be the exception!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Georgia Hall on Chipping (Video)

If you saw Georgia Hall's short game in her first UL International Cup match, you know that she can get it done around the greens. Here's a Golf Monthly chipping video with Georgia, recorded less than a month ago.



Most of Georgia's technique is pretty standard -- which you should expect, as most pros chip in a similar manner -- but I'm posting this because she does something a bit unusual.

Georgia chips her longer putts -- this one's around 20 feet -- with a 7-iron and uses a putting motion with her chipping grip.

Make sure you understand how her stroke differs from other pros. I've posted a number of videos where instructors recommend a firm putting grip for chipping. But Georgia is holding the club as she would for a normal chipping stroke. She just doesn't use much wrist action when she chips. Rather, she uses her shoulders and makes sure she swings with a good rhythm.

Note also that she's not in deep rough for this shot. The ball is lying pretty good, and she can get a lot of club on it. But she says the 7-iron is a safer shot than a wedge here. The reason is because the 7-iron's face stands taller so you're much less likely to mis-hit the ball. There's more room for error while still getting a solid strike on the ball.

Basically, Georgia has chosen to use a high percentage technique in order to give her a better chance to get the result she wants. Remember what she says: Most players will get better results if they land the ball closer to their feet and let the ball run out, rather than flying the ball most of the way to the hole and hoping to make it stop fast.

And she's an Open champion. She knows.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The UL International Crown Starts Tonight

Two weeks of team play in a row. How great is that?

The 2018 UL International Crown teams

The 2018 UL International Crown is being held in Korea, which (1) insures a absolutely wild crowd of fans and (2) gives us US viewers prime time coverage, unlike the Ryder Cup last week.

Tony Jesselli has done a very thorough preview at his website, so I'll just hit a couple of key points.

The eight teams in this year's matches are Korea, the United States, England, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Sweden. Defending champion Spain did not qualify this time, which is one of the more unique aspects of this competition. [CORRECTION: The US is defending, and I don't know why I got confused since it's in all the ads. Spain was the defending team two years ago but didn't qualify -- still making this a unique aspect though.] And while the two teams most expect to contend for the title are Korea and the US, each team comes in with a few questions.

For the Korean team, Inbee Park qualified but chose not to play so another Korean player could go. You have to wonder how that will affect their chances. After all, ULIC teams don't have a separate captain, so how will the Koreans play without their most experienced player to lead them?

On the US side, both Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson come in with questions -- Wie from injuries, Thompson concerning her form. In my mind, this surrounds the US team with even more questions than the Ryder Cup team faced last week.

I can't help but think that Thailand could easily be the sleeper in this week's event. The Jutanugarn sisters Ariya and Moriya, veteran Pornanong Phatlum, and young Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong have all played very sound golf this season, with both Jutanugarns having won, Sherman having two Top5s and Pornanong one. Don't underestimate them!

GC's coverage begins tonight at 8pm ET.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Questions Begin

To be honest, I'm not in the mood to dissect the Ryder Cup at this point, and I'm not going to spend much time doing so -- at least, not today. But golfchannel.com posted a couple of articles that tell me the US team's expectations might have been too high.

The Ryder Cup venue in France

The two articles concern the apparent friction between Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth and a near fistfight between Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. You can read the articles for yourself, but they do indicate that "the Committee" didn't solve all the problems as well as they thought they did.

It's these sorts of incidents that cause people to believe the US team doesn't really know how to be a team. But I think that is a misunderstanding of the problem. In my Saturday post I wrote the following:
Team play is a learned skill, one which the Euro players tend to learn as youngsters because they play more teams growing up.
While I've never been on something like a Ryder Cup team, I've been on a number of teams in my life. Church mission teams and business teams aren't really that different from sports teams when it comes down to relationships and how they work, but it's easy to put too much emphasis on "bonding."

Don't get me wrong. "Bonding" does make the whole team experience more enjoyable, and it can help group members get past some of the barriers to cooperation. But it seems to me that it's been elevated to some level of magic, one that people think can instantly transform a disfunctional situation into perfect one. (Cue multitudes of angels singing amid rays of bright light.)

The American team really does have most of the qualities their fans believe define a team, but teamwork takes work, not magic.

Working in a team setting IS a learned skill. The American system tends to create alpha dogs while the European system teaches the basics of teamwork long before players become good enough to be alpha dogs. It's not that the US team members aren't united in their desire to work together -- they simply don't fully understand how to do it. An alpha dog's idea of covering for a teammate who just hit a bad shot is to try a hero shot of his own, rather than playing a safe shot that enables the team to avoid the big number.

Fans are no better in this respect. They tend to brand any safe play as "weakness" or "a lack of desire' when that play is, in fact, the only smart play. And alpha dogs really don't like to be labeled as weak. I think of Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies, constantly endangering his future because "nobody calls me chicken!"

I'll leave the "experts" to debate this issue, as I know they will for the next two years. But in the spirit of instruction, let me offer one piece of corrective advice to all the alpha dogs out there on the Tour who hope to make future Ryder Cup teams. And because this debate takes on almost religious dimensions sometimes, I'll even phrase it as Jesus often phrased His teachings in the Bible:
You have heard it said, "The goal is to have two birdie putts on every hole."
But I say to you, the true goal is to insure one easy par putt on each hole, and then the birdie putts shall come to you as well.
It's a hard truth that's foreign to an alpha dog's mindset. It's much harder to do than it sounds, because it strikes at the root of how alpha dogs see themselves. The problem isn't so much about team as it is about self-image. It's about understanding that the real magic of a team is that the individual often needs to be less impressive rather than more -- in fact, often needs to be less impressive rather than more.

The word for that is "paradox." In a true team, less is often more -- dramatically more -- if the players are willing to step back and rethink what they really need to be on that team.

I don't know that the golfing world is ready for that truth -- at least, not the American golfing world -- but I think the European players already know it. And if the American alpha dogs could just grasp this one simple truth, they'd be well on the way to learning that teamwork is a bit different -- and more wonderful -- than anything a committee can legislate.

End of rant.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Limerick Summary: 2018 Ryder Cup

Winner: Europe, 17.5-10.5

Around the wider world of golf: Yes, there were other events going on this weekend. Ken Tanigawa got his first Champions Tour win at the PURE Insurance Championship, and Matthew Sutherland teamed with his uncle Kevin Sutherland to win the Pro-Junior title; Tony Romo's Tour School run ended at First Stage, where he finished T72 but shot his best round of the event (72) on the last day; Nick Voke won the Macau Championship for his second victory in a row on the PGA TOUR China; Ruixin Liu won the IOA Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour; Angelo Que won the TOP Cup Tokai Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; and Adilson DaSilva won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on the Asian Tour.

The victorious Team Europe

I really don't know what to say. Team Europe has successfully defended home turf in the Ryder Cup for a quarter century.

It's not because I was rooting for the Americans. I'm speechless because this is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Excellence is hard to sustain in any field of endeavor, but in one like golf where anything can happen -- and where, in this case, the rough really did look like a field -- the ability to adapt to such a wide variety of changing conditions for so long is just incredible.

I'm sure Team USA doesn't feel quite as impressed as I do. That's the problem with being the one against whom history is made. Perhaps, after a few weeks and an ungodly number of beers, they'll be able to appreciate the quality of the pounding they have taken over the last quarter century. But whether they do or not, it's an accomplishment that golf fans everywhere should recognize and celebrate.

Yes, even US fans should celebrate it. It's not masochism. It's just recognizing greatness when we see it.

And in a few days, after the champagne buzz has subsided and their clothes have either been cleaned or disposed of -- depending on how big the celebration ends up being -- they'll find today's Limerick Summary ready and waiting.

Or at least, I hope they'll be able to find it. Given how much drinking was going on during the TV broadcast, I'm not sure they'll be able to find anything for a week or so...
It seems that the story’s the same,
No matter the team captain’s name:
Team Europe at home
Makes it clear that they own
ANYBODY who thinks they got game!
The photo came from this page at europeantour.com.